A court in Belgium has ordered the social media giant Facebook to stop tracking people around the web who are not users of the service. The court has ruled that the data was gathered illegally and that it must all be destroyed. If Facebook fails to comply with the court ruling, it must pay a fine of €250,000 ($311,000 USD) per day up to €100m ($124m USD).
Belgium’s privacy watchdog had argued to the court that Facebook had broken privacy laws by using trackers such as cookies and 'Like' buttons on third-party websites. The court essentially agreed with the argument and said the company must stop following and recording internet use by people surfing in Belgium, until it complies with Belgian privacy laws.
Belgium’s privacy watchdog was pleased with the result, saying:
“Facebook has just launched a large campaign where they stress the importance of privacy. We hope they will now make this a reality.”
Facebook’s Richard Allan, the vice president of public police for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said:
Anouk Devenys, the judge at the court, said:
“The court comes to the conclusion that Facebook does not inform us enough about the fact that it collects information about us. [There is too] much uncertainty about the nature of the information it collects, what happens to that information and how long the company stores that information.”
Facebook rightly pointed out that cookies and pixels used to track web users are industry practice. Most advertisers like to track people around the web to find out more about their interests so that they can target ads. Entities such as Mozilla and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been campaigning for more privacy over the last few years with Firefox coming with optional tracking protection and the EFF developing the Privacy Badger add-on to stop trackers in their path.
Source: De Morgen (via Google Translate)